The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:

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Image of folklorist Joseph Hall
Courtesy of Ted Olson, ETSU

More than 4,000 people surrendered their homes and land to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park covers more than 500,000 acres and straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Images of MRI scans
Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities

One in 68 children in the United States will develop autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The field of autism research has grown rapidly in the past few decades, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is at the forefront of much of this discovery

  Note: This conversation is a rebroadcast from February 16, 2017.

Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist Talib Kweli entered the music scene in the late 1990s as one half of the duo Black Star. The group stressed the importance of lyricism and wrestled with systems of inequality through rap. Since then, Kweli has maintained a reputation as a “conscious rapper.” He’s collaborated with other hip-hop artists like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Durham-based producer 9th Wonder.

Actor Meshaun Labrone playing Stokely Carmichael in a new one-man show.
DJ Corey Photography / Courtesy of the Artist

Note: This conversation is a rebroadcast from February 16, 2017.

In the early 1960s, Stokely Carmichael was a relatively-unknown young activist working primarily with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Alabama and Mississippi. But he rose to prominence in the summer of 1966 when he introduced the term “black power” into the national dialogue.

Nina Simone's Tryon, NC, Home Sold to Artists

Mar 22, 2017
A clapboard house sits on a hill in the town of Tryon, NC
Courtesy of BPR News

In the 1930s and '40s, the community of Tryon, North Carolina supported local girl Eunice Waymon on her path to becoming a classical pianist. But she veered far from that trajectory, and eventually became an internationally-celebrated jazz and soul singer known as Nina Simone.
 

The three-room wooden house Simone was born and raised in was preserved by community members and recently purchased by four New York City-based artists.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with Blue Ridge Public Radio reporter Helen Chickering about the house and its future.

An image of Duke University Professor Sarah Gaither
Duke University

Sarah Gaither is interested in how growing up with multiple racial identities shapes one’s social perceptions and behaviors. Gaither is an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, and her work explores how racial and gender diversity can facilitate positive relationships within different social circles.

Small Nonprofit, Big Impact: Meet Juni Asiyo

Mar 20, 2017
Juni Asiyo wearing traditional Kenyan clothing.
Juni Asiyo

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from April 27. 2015.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the most serious HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world. In 2012, roughly 25 million people were living with HIV, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the global total. 

The battle is ongoing, as researchers, educators, and doctors continue to work to stop AIDS once and for all.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

President Trump unveiled his budget proposal Thursday with an emphasis on increased spending for the military and the Department of Homeland Security. The plan also included cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and eliminates federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Some Republican lawmakers are wary of the proposed cuts to the State Department and federal aid programs.

photo of the NC legislature
Wikimedia

A new bill in the North Carolina Legislature proposes changing the juvenile penal system to raise the age of adult prosecution for most offenses. The state is currently one of only two in the nation where 16 and 17 year olds are routinely charged as adults.

Courtesy of The Department of Special Collections at Stanford University Libraries

Flores Forbes joined the Black Panther Party when he was just 16 years old. He became the youngest member of the Central Committee and eventually got involved in the party’s military arm. 

Courtesy North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture

A newly-formed group comprised of former politicians, academics, and community leaders will investigate possible connections between North Carolina and the CIA’s interrogation program.

Aero Contractors, a private aviation company based at the Johnston County airport, allegedly picked up suspected terrorists and transported them to CIA-run black site prisons.

Driving Through a Changing South

Mar 15, 2017
book cover of "Discovering the South: One Man's Travels Through a Changing America in the 1930s."
Courtesy of Jennifer Ritterhouse

In the summer of 1937, Jonathan Daniels, the young, white, liberal-minded editor of the News & Observer, embarked on a driving tour of 10 Southern states. He documented the stories of the diverse people he encountered and hoped to change the national perception of the region.

Courtesy E.C. Hanes

When E.C. “Redge” Hanes was looking for a backdrop for his latest novel, he decided to draw from his own experience. He once raised hogs on a farm with his brother, and he also participated in an environmental study commission looking into the impact of hog farming on North Carolina’s ecology.

Hanes’ new book “Justice By Another Name” (Rane Coat Press/2017) is a tale of love and revenge set in fictional Hogg County, North Carolina.
 

An image of UNCA professors and co-hosts Marcus Harvey and Darin Waters
David Allen / UNC-Asheville

Asheville has been home to an African-American community for centuries. However, African-American residents in Asheville and western North Carolina have historically suffered from systemic inequality and racial disparities.

In the new radio program and podcast “The Waters and Harvey Show,” co-hosts Darin Waters and Marcus Harvey examine western North Carolina’s cultural history and the narratives of marginalized communities.
 

exterior of the NC State Legislature
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

State lawmakers have advanced a measure that would remove some judicial appointment powers from Gov. Roy Cooper.

They also continued touting a bill that would change opiate prescription guidelines and proposed, yet again, to send 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who are alleged to have committed nonviolent crimes to juvenile courts instead of being tried as adults.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about this week’s activity at the legislature.

An image of James Phillips, Stacy Harden and Daniel Michalak of Bombadil
DL Anderson

A few years ago, Durham-based indie-folk band Bombadil decided to do some soul searching. After one of the band members left the group, the rest of the band decided to take a step back and find a new direction. The group eventually picked up new bandmate and worked with a data scientist to create “the perfect Bombadil song.” The band’s new style guides its latest album “Fences.”
 

AP Photo/Alex Sanz

UPDATED 12:11 P.M. ON FRIDAY, MARCH 10

 

North Carolina district attorney David Learner said Friday that two assistant district attorneys no longer work for his office.

 

Learner’s statement is in response to an investigation by the Associated Press that reported prosecutors Frank Webster and Chris Back helped derail criminal investigations into allegations of abuse by church leaders of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale.

 

Courtesy Danielle Purifoy

Lawyer and environmentalist Danielle Purifoy and artist Torkwase Dyson loaded up art supplies and media equipment in a mobile art studio and traveled to North Carolina and Alabama to meet people who live in the shadows of structural racism. The documentary project “In Conditions of Fresh Water” focuses on how residents of some communities in Alamance County, North Carolina, and Lowndes County, Alabama lack access to adequate sanitation infrastructure.

Lance Cpl. Justin A. Rodriguez / U.S. Marine Corps

The Department of Defense has launched an investigation after the non-profit news organization The War Horse broke a story about Marines spreading nude photos of female service members online. The report says Marines used a closed Facebook page to post links to explicit photos of the women with their ranks, names, and military stations of duty.

‘Stained-Glass Millennials:’ Keeping The Faith In A New Era

Mar 7, 2017
Jessi Lancaster

Millennials are the least likely to go to church and less religiously oriented than generations before them. It’s a statistic that has been repeated often in recent years to explain the drop in attendance at Christian churches across the country.

But Rob Lee, a Methodist millennial, says that the faithful in his generation have been lost in that narrative.

Ben Vereen
Courtesy of Isak Tiner

Ben Vereen made a name for himself on Broadway in the late 1960s with performances in hit productions like “Sweet Charity” and “Hair.” He later won a Tony award in 1973 for his role in “Pippin.” Since then, he has also acted in more than a dozen television shows, including the 1977 hit miniseries “Roots.”
 

In his one-man show “Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen,” Vereen performs hit songs from Broadway and pays tribute to iconic performers Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.

kenrudinpolitics.com

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under fire for corresponding with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 election.

The revelations are leading to more calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump administration's ties to Russia.

Nin Solis

Hundreds of thousands of individuals move to Mexico from the United States each year. This number includes both those who are deported and those who choose to return. Many of those individuals spent their formative years in the United States and experience distinct challenges upon return to Mexico, including extreme culture shock, depression and mental illness, and barriers to accessing employment and education in Mexico.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

Gov. Roy Cooper has rolled out his budget proposal for the next two years. The governor emphasized setting aside money for teacher salary increases, expanding Medicaid, and investments in economic development. The recommendation is largely a symbolic gesture as Republican majorities in the legislature will ultimately approve the state budget. Meanwhile, a bipartisan effort to repeal House Bill 2 has stalled because of opposition from both parties.

 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

For decades, politicians have used coded language to talk about race without addressing it explicitly. Terms like "welfare queen," "illegal aliens" and "thug" are used to elicit responses from target audiences without directly addressing race. The practice is known as "dog whistle politics." However, critics of President Donald Trump argue his rhetoric is antagonistic and divisive when it comes to issues of race and inequality.

A promotional still with John Wayne and Claire Trevor from the 1939 American Western film 'Stagecoach'.
Wikimedia Commons

A gun-slinging cowboy on a mission of revenge takes down the enemy in a quick-draw duel.  He then rides off on his trusted steed with the setting sun casting long shadows on the rugged landscape. This is one of the iconic narratives in Western film, a genre which has gone through a massive evolution since its “good versus evil” and “cowboys versus Indians” days.

Courtesy Triad City Beat

Hundreds of residents from Winston-Salem joined prayer services at three mosques in the Triad area on Friday. The outpouring of support for the Muslim community was a reaction to violent, anti-Islamic speech that emerged from a meeting between far-right conservative activists held in Kernersville, North Carolina.
 

'Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship' (UNC Press/2016) explores the legacy of North Carolina's first nurse-midwife.
UNC Press

Lovie Beard Shelton was a pioneer in her field. As the first registered nurse-midwife in North Carolina, she helped birth more than 4,000 babies born to mothers from diverse backgrounds.
 

Folklorist Lisa Yarger first met Beard Shelton in 1996 and spent the following 20 years documenting her life. “Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship” (UNC Press/2016) is the culmination of that journey.

Duke University

Makeba Wilbourn has been immersed in the subtleties of language since she was a child.

As the daughter of a northern white mother and southern black father, she constantly changed the way she spoke to her own family. And as she grew older, she realized she had to be an expert at code-switching in order to succeed as a biracial woman.

Today, Makeba studies how children develop those differences in language, and how that might contribute to our racial biases.

Image of bathroom sign
The LEAF Project / Flickr Creative Commons

State lawmakers have filed a bipartisan bill to repeal House Bill 2 with some conditions.

The proposal got immediate backlash this week from other Democrats and LGBT rights groups who want a clean repeal of HB2, and it is not clear whether it has enough votes to pass.

Meanwhile, a committee in the state Senate has voted to issue a subpoena for Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs Larry Hall after he failed to show up at three confirmation hearings.

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